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August 4, 2017 (Updated: February 8, 2023)
Out of e-commerce’s many tricky aspects, a great product description is one of the most important. Whether you sell thousands of different products or just one, people won’t give your store a second look if the descriptions are lackluster. Contrary to what many people think, that means far more than good spelling and grammar or a long word count.
Many people buy things without looking at the product descriptions at all, but that is because they have already been pre-sold on them. Descriptions are meant to drive someone who is merely curious or unconvinced, which is why you’ll need them to be as convincing and riveting as possible. Here are five secrets to descriptions for sales pages and why each one makes such a difference.
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It might sound bizarre, but stuffing too much descriptive text into the description can be harmful. No one wants to know how the sausage is made, as they say. Boring or unappealing details are just wasted words, and people have a habit of changing their minds quickly on sales pages. The curse of knowledge is an important bias to consider, so think about which details sound good to a customer as opposed to ones that sound good to an investor.
A/B testing, or split testing, can play a strong role in figuring out what particular details intrigue customers. Try testing two versions of a page with the latter version missing a sentence you’re unsure about, and see if people actually buy more often as a result. There is such a thing as saying too much, even if it’s all meant to be flattering.
The customer needs to be reassured that what they’re buying is an essential purchase, or at the very least not as frivolous as they imagine. Every purchase is a gamble against the product not satisfying their needs, or against a change of heart over even wanting the product in the first place. This is especially true of e-commerce, where your description is likely competing with ten other things on the customer’s screen.
Avoid any words or phrases that could make the customer feel decadent or lacking in discipline, such as ‘treat yourself’ or ‘worth it.’ If your product is expensive, emphasize the money saved compared to other alternatives, or the money they could potentially make. Finally, always emphasize money-back guarantees and other safety nets, but not overtly. The description should shine with confidence that the guarantee will probably not be used.
Human beings are magnetized to stories. You can state that a bag of artisan coffee beans is top quality, but there’s so much more strength when you describe how each batch is hand-inspected by an honored village elder in the Andes. With a description about how edible lionfish are overpopulated and destroying underwater reefs, the customers can feel like buying lionfish contributes to a happy ending. You can even tell amusing fake stories, such as those used for Newman’s Own pet products that personify the dog.
If you’re selling services, don’t worry, because that makes it even easier. A consultant, for example, could use much of his or her description to go into detail on the intriguing experiences they’ve had that are relevant to the industry they consult for. Almost every e-commerce item in the world has an interesting story behind it that can flesh out its features and benefits. Just look for an interesting problem and how it was resolved or could be resolved.
Image via Flickr by Jon Wiley
Very few people read everything on a web page, even if it’s a sales page describing what they’re about to buy. Studies have shown that most people scan web pages if they didn’t go to them specifically for reading, which is why making your product descriptions easy to speed read or scan is crucial. This mostly boils down to not having large clumps of text.
Spacing between paragraphs and bullet points are both very helpful, as are bolding or increasing the font size of important selling points. Using subheadings to separate different ideas, much like this article does, is another great method. Some customers will visit a sales page wanting to know only one or two things, and all other information is extraneous. Help each visitor learn exactly what they need to know in seconds and you’ll get far fewer bounces.
To get the most sales possible, you need to use full circle copy and avoid assuming that the customer knows everything, all while not talking down to them or making the product seem too basic for experienced customers. How can this be done quickly within a description? For one thing, social proof is very helpful for convincing new and returning customers. Have a mix of ideas expressed in testimonials that let the basic and detailed benefits of your product shine.
For example, imagine a sales page for a catering service’s starting event package. There could be quotes from happy customers who have more basic and personalized praise, such as how their event was a blast and everyone loved the food. This would appeal to new customers, but then you could also add quotes from customers who praised the customer service, how unexpected issues were handled quickly, and other precise answers to the questions an experienced customer would ask while reading the description.
A bad description will easily overwrite any momentum your customers had toward buying your product or service. Hopefully, you see the kinds of factors at play, and how merely correct English and ample details won’t get the job done. Even if this may seem overwhelming, don’t worry. You can hire a professional copywriter who knows these concepts inside and out to help you polish every written aspect of your business, including product descriptions.
Even if you have a copywriter already, find out whether they can handle the tips above, and if not, then maybe it’s time to try someone new. It’s hard for people within a business or venture to see it from a customer’s perspective, and you should trust these tasks to someone who has the talent and judgment to help your business thrive.
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